Rail Photography

jdh313

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Hello all,
It has been a few years since I have been on here, but I recently found a new interest in rail photography. I was hoping that I could get an opinion on a few of my better shots. Any tips (position, lighting, zoom, etc) would be helpful, as well as any post processing advice. I know that I am a bit of an "over-saturator", but the colors are some of the most interesting. Here are the photos:
1.

PRR-194.jpg by jdhoehler, on Flickr
2.

PRR-119.jpg by jdhoehler, on Flickr
I will probably post a few more later, but could use soem thoughts.
Thanks in advanced,
Jacob
 

Dagwood56

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I'm a sucker for train photos and I love these. I prefer the second image because the colors stand out more and its shot from a better angle so you can see the side of the train.

The PRR -Yes! One of the best! :D
 

tirediron

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#2 is the classic 'perfect' train shot; ideal 3/4 profile of the locomotive and a nice curve to show off the varnish behind.
 
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jdh313

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Thanks for the quick replies. I originally liked the first one better, especially due to an angle. I was crouching down in a ditch next to the tracks in order to get the shot. The more I look at the second, though, the more I like the way it looks!
Any other thoughts?
 

Dinardy

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Another vote for 2, I also am a fan of train shots.
 

Ysarex

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I also vote for #2 as the better shot. From a PP standpoint the photo's white balance is off -- it's too blue.

And it would be pretty easy to drop a little blue into the sky so you'd have some color there.

You have your edit tag set to NOT OK, if you change that I'd be happy to show you.

Joe
 
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jdh313

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Here are a few more to keep this going.
3.

20130720-DSC_0109.jpg by jdhoehler, on Flickr

4.

20130720-DSC_0257.jpg by jdhoehler, on Flickr

5.

20130720-DSC_0181.jpg by jdhoehler, on Flickr

6.

20130720-DSC_0186.jpg by jdhoehler, on Flickr

On 5 and 6 the sky is exaggerated, but I like the effect it left, especially on 5.
Feel free to edit my photos, and I will figure out how to change it. All I ask is if you let me know exactly what you do so I can replicate it in my RAWs in lightroom. Speaking of which, I will share those if it would make it easier.

Thanks so much for all of the help.
 

Ysarex

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OK, so here's your #2 photo from the 1st post.


$penna_railroad.jpg


I adjusted the white balance to remove the blue color cast. You can do the same using the white balance dropper in LR as a starting point. The best bet is to look for a grey point and then zero in from there. A lot of folks make the mistake of trying to use the LR white balance dropper on "white" material in the photo. You really get the best result when you find something that you know was grey in the photo. On the far right edge of the frame is a railroad crossing light -- the grey metal box is a good grey point to get you started. Beyond that I relied on my experience with green foliage to tweak it in a little closer.

What I did to add color to the sky can't be done in LR. I used Photoshop and created a separate layer where I ran a gradient across the layer then set the blend mode to multiply and added a mask on the layer for the sky. And finally I did a little cloning.

Joe
 

manyvan2000

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OK, so here's your #2 photo from the 1st post.


View attachment 50787


I adjusted the white balance to remove the blue color cast. You can do the same using the white balance dropper in LR as a starting point. The best bet is to look for a grey point and then zero in from there. A lot of folks make the mistake of trying to use the LR white balance dropper on "white" material in the photo. You really get the best result when you find something that you know was grey in the photo. On the far right edge of the frame is a railroad crossing light -- the grey metal box is a good grey point to get you started. Beyond that I relied on my experience with green foliage to tweak it in a little closer.

What I did to add color to the sky can't be done in LR. I used Photoshop and created a separate layer where I ran a gradient across the layer then set the blend mode to multiply and added a mask on the layer for the sky. And finally I did a little cloning.

Joe

Sorry, off topic rookie question: how did you know it had a blue color cast? I can see that something is off, but couldnt get it.

Also off topic, does anyone have any links / suggestions on articles about getting the colors right? I am having a tough time getting the colors in my photos to match what I see.
 

Ysarex

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Sorry, off topic rookie question: how did you know it had a blue color cast?

I can see it, but I have this advantage of a whole lot of practice (about 40 years worth). It's a skill that you will eventually develop but it's a little tricky because you're internal wiring isn't helping you. Human color perception is complex. Maybe Gavjenks (he's a psychologist with solid background in human perception) will chime in here with some details.

Also off topic, does anyone have any links / suggestions on articles about getting the colors right? I am having a tough time getting the colors in my photos to match what I see.

I've got lots of suggestions.

1. What you don't see immediately as a color error will become in-your-face obvious when seen in comparison with the error corrected. A ring around is your friend. LR unfortunately doesn't provide one but Photoshop does: Image/Adjustments/Variations.

2. Learn to use the custom white balance function of your camera. Here's a first step in determining if you have a color problem: Check the photo's EXIF data and see if the camera white balance was set to auto. If yes, then the color is wrong. The auto white balance function in today's modern cameras does not work. The camera can't measure the color temp/tint of the light after it has reflected off the subject.

3. If you're not going to use the camera's custom white balance feature then save raw files and set the white balance in the raw converter. This is best done by finding and/or placing a known grey point in the photo (you can shoot a reference frame with a grey card). Grey points are pretty common in the world out there but are no guarantee in every photo. In the above example I was able to start with what I fairly assumed were grey points. Reading the RGB values from those grey points confirmed what I was seeing -- they were blue grey. Hanging out of the front of the engine are rubber break line hoses; should be pretty neutral. The crossing lights in the back far right were painted silver; should be pretty neutral, etc.

4. Learn to paint by number. There are colors in our world that are pretty consistent, the most obvious being blue sky. Most of the day blue sky in a non-backlit scene anywhere on the planet will have a hue value (sRGB color space) right around 210. If you check the sky color and get a value below 205 or above 215 you can be suspicious that there's a color error. Another example, the back of your hand (sRGB) has a hue value of 19 give or take a few points.

5. You'll encounter a lot of comments on this topic along the line of; there's no real right or wrong, it's your personal taste and you should feel free to adjust the color to suit your esthetic expression. That's true, but this is often offered up as an excuse by those who don't have the skill or discipline to get it right in the first place. Learn to get the color as accurate as possible first and then feel free to express yourself.

Joe
 

JNE_Photos

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Good stuff - I like the second photo, although I think Ysarex's adjustments make it look better.
 

Shipman

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I shoot a lot of railway and train cars as well, I like your shots. If youd like I can post a few of mine in here to compare but I dont want to thread jack without asking first.
 
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jdh313

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Thanks for all of the comments everybody. I haven't been on my computer, so I will reply in more depth tomorrow, but the advice has been great. And shipman, feel free to take over. Where in Jersey do you watch them?
 

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jdh313

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Thank you everybody for the replies. Ysarex, the changes you made look great. Could you possibly either post the .psd or a screenshot so I can see your layers, if you still have it. I also have photoshop cs3, although I am very new to it. I also want to thank you for all of the white balance advice, I have been using lightroom's auto, although it is something I have been working on. Finally, thank you Shipman for the photos, number 4 would have to be my favorite. Keep the advice coming! :)
 

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